Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Only Way Out Is In

One of the elements in our human paradigm is the desire to be right about our point of view. Although being right feels good, it is not innate. We inherited the desire from our parents. They rewarded us for giving right answers. When we reached school, our teachers reinforced that same philosophy; we were rewarded with A’s for giving right answers and coloring between the lines.

While the feeling of being right is euphoric for some, there are others who gain attention and recognition by being a rebel. That can take the form of being the class clown to being the delinquent. In either case, each person takes the position that their way is right – funny, smart, delinquent, etc.

However, at some point, being right
works against us. In fact, it is at the source of many problems in society, including divorce, wars and crime. Once we take a position, we believe our way of thinking is right which means the other parties are wrong. What makes matters worse is that we will justify our actions at all costs. In addition, we will find people who will take our side as a way to further our justification.

Except, in the face of being right, we fail to see that we are giving up success, opportunity, love, happiness, etc. For what? Being right is a way to ensure we look good or avoid looking bad. Furthermore, looking good is how we survive in a world filled with ups and downs. As long as we look good, we can avoid negative consequences. 

Also, being right allows us to avoid the responsibility of creating the lives we claim we want. We get to say ‘you don’t understand. I am just the victim of that person. They did____ to me. Now I am left with no choice but to ____’. This way of thinking allows us to justify negative behavior even if it means abusing drugs and alcohol. 

As long as we continue to justify our position, we get to be right. And anyone who disagrees with us is attacked and removed from our list of friends.

Unless we were born of superhuman parents who endowed us with the powers to overcome that way of thinking, this is the human paradigm that was handed down to each of us. Therefore, it is hopeless to pretend we are above it.

Those who try to escape it by being perfect are going deeper because they are trying to avoid being dominated by the human paradigm. By doing so, they are being right.

With that thought, it appears hopeless to shed this part of ourselves. Yet, there is hope in the hopelessness. It only requires us to take actions that are counterintuitive in our existing paradigm. One way is to go into the abyss of our own thinking processes and tell on ourselves. Instead of looking outside of ourselves and blaming others, we would benefit by admitting our desire to be right. For example, say to the other parties, ‘in this moment, I am more interested in being right. In fact, I can barely hear what you are saying to me because in my head I can only hear how I will defend myself to make you wrong. I can’t help it and I do it often.’

The moment we take that perspective we experience the freedom of choice as well as a form of self-mastery. In no way am I suggesting you have to be wrong to get along. I assert that the choice is between being right or listening to the other parties and committing to an outcome that is in the best interest of everyone.

While the rewards of being right are tremendous, as you can see, if carried too far, the cost can lead to divorce, homelessness or even death. Now that you have a new set of tools, what will you choose? 

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know. 


  1. I'll have to agree. Being righteous is very powerful. You could say "Its the meaning of life". I gives us purpose and drive for our endeavors whether for the greater good or for the lower realm. What it doesn't give us is Wisdom. Wisdom is what is required to be righteous. That usually comes with life experience and self knowledge.;-)

    "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
    there is a field. I will meet you there.
    When the soul lies down in that grass,
    the world is too full to talk about
    language, ideas, even the phrase each other
    doesn't make any sense."


  2. Thanks, Marilyn. Very interesting perspective - It's the meaning of life. Being right is a heavily used way of existing in the world. People's lives rely on being right. If the meaning of one's life is to be right, it would be very difficult for them to learn anything, especially if it is outside of what they know.

    Thanks for adding the poem to this post. It sounds like the poem is talking about the oneness of us all. I could not be me without you and the rest of the world.

  3. Rumi is my favorite. Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic . He wrote 12 poems daily for 12 years. Born 1207.